An impromptu day trip to Florence led us to come up with the cheapest way to have lunch in the center of Florence for less than €10 with a view of the Ponte Vecchio.
I’m not kidding I swear!
Not only did we find free parking (“che culo!” as they say, colloquially, in Italian) but we also had amazing weather and a not-quite-so-crowded city center to wander around in.
After we parked the car (free!) we took a stroll towards the Ponte Vecchio and then turned right at the Biblioteca Nazionale Firenze into the labyrinth of cobblestone side streets that make up the historical center.
I was already starving and was on the lookout for the nearest restaurant but my husband had other ideas.
About a hundred meters in, Alessio turned to me and said, “Well, what do you think? Go in and pick up a pizzetta or something for us?”
From his tone I could tell that asking me what I thought was just polite filler because my thoughts were that I did not want to eat a pizzetta, or a panino, or a focaccia. I wanted to enjoy a fiorentina with a side salad and top it off with dessert and an espresso. All on a quaint wooden table resplendent with checked tablecloth and a generously sized fiasco of red wine complete with a view of the Duomo.
I did NOT want to walk into the Conad and wait at the bread counter to get some focaccia and salami and then stand in line to pay along with the other peasants.
But I did.
And what pleasant surprise I had.
The woman at the salami/bread counter was going about her day ignoring any waiting customers when the manager walked by and called for her to come out from the back.
When she eventually made her way up to the front she quickly realized that I was the only customer within a 5 foot radius of her counter and breathed a sigh of relief. There was no need to hurry if only ONE customer was waiting (note: I am not by any means saying that if there were more than one customer waiting that the ever elusive “sense of urgency” would have kicked in).
Since they had the bread and salami together, I asked if she would make the focacce for us. One of the things that amazes me about Italy is the way people go out of their way to accommodate you. Granted, I’ve never tried this at the Cooper’s in my hometown, but I’m almost sure that if I asked them to give me some bread, and then asked them to cut it in three pieces, and then slice it lengthwise AND add in the deli meats of my choice they’d tell me to go to Subway and talk about me incredulously for the rest of the week. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
I asked for the different meats that I knew we liked – one focaccia with mortadella, and two with salami (I opted for the ungarese that day – so sue me) and waited while she carefully sliced the meats, weighed them, and then added them to the sandwiches. She then wrapped them all individually and handed me a crisp white paper sack.
I wandered around the store and picked up two bottles of water and a bottle of Fanta and went to the checkout.
Aside from being the strangest checkout I’d ever seen the clerk was very friendly and spoke to me directly in Italian (something I was quite proud of as I was surrounded by English speaking foreigners) and went about her job with a bright efficiency rivalled only by Toyota.
I crossed the street to meet Alessio and Ada and we walked up to the Arno River where we climbed up on the walls to eat our lunch people
judging watching and chatting the whole time.
It was only when I was gathering all of our trash to throw away into one of the garbage bins that I looked at the receipt from the Conad.
Three abundant focacce made on the spot, two bottles of water, a Fanta, a plastic bag to carry it all in and a front row seat with a view of the Ponte Vecchio.
Not too shabby as my Dad would say.
I’ve added all of the points that we visited along with some tips and info in the map below. Clicking on one of the stars should bring you to the map. This is something new I’m trying, so if you like it, let me know! We visited all of these spots (except for the Galleria where the “real” David is kept – that was just to show you guys where to find it should you wish to visit) in the span of about 5 hours – with a 7 year old. Annnnd a stop for gelato. And two coffees.